From the Visayan Daily Star (Sep 27): Army braces for rebel atrocities
BRGY, DIAN-AY, Escalante City - The Philippine Army in northern Negros is bracing for more atrocities by the New People's Army on sugar millsand others who refuse to comply with their extortion demands, among their possible targets.
Lt. Col. Darrell Bañez, 62nd Infantry Battalion commander, yesterday said they also received reports on threats of the NPA to attack police stations, and other vital installations in northern Negros.
But Bañez said their combat operations, in coordination with the Philippine National Police public safety forces, are going on without let-up, to prevent whatever terroristic plans the NPA estimated to have 70 armed fighters,may have in northern Negros,.
The Philippine Army earlier condemned the latest atrocities committed by suspected NPA rebels, who recently attacked and inflicted damage on the biggest solar farm in Southeast Asia in Brgy. Tinampa-an, Cadiz City, Negros Occidental.
Police investigations showed that about 17 armed men armed with hand grenades and M203 grenade launchers fired at the solar power farm owned by the Helios Solar Energy Corp. in Barangay Tinampa-an, Cadiz City, for about four minutes.
Damaged were 90 imported solar power panels situated at the southern portion of the solar farm and a CCTV camera. But no one was hurt during the attack. The estimated damage has been placed at P3.1 million.
Bañez admitted that they, and even the security forces guarding the solar power farm, were surprised by the harassment, as they have not monitored any presence of armed men in the area, before the incident.
Their investigations showed, Bañes said, that the armed men came from other places and were shuttled into the area in vehicles.
“Extortion was the main motive of the harassment,” Bañes, who led the multi-service peace caravan of the Provincial-Peace Integration and Development Unit of Negros Occidental, with this barangay as the venue, said.
Since 2015, the extortionists have been demanding a certain amount from the owner of the solar farm, who ignored them, he added.
The Philippine Army lauded the solar company for rejecting the NPA's demand, although its refusal led to the destruction of their solar farm panels.
Senior Supt. Rodolfo Castil, provincial police director of Negros Occidental, who attended the activity, said they are maximizing patrols in the area, in coordination with the 62IB, to prevent the occurrence of a similar incident.